Thursday’s news in 5 minutes.

Video via Channel 7

Trigger warning: The first story in this post deals with a case of child abuse.

1. Foster parents charged after 11-yo was ‘hog-tied and stuffed in a suitcase for a month’.

A Utah husband and wife have been arrested and charged with with three counts of child abuse each, Deseret News reports.

Matthew Earl Waldmiller, 40, and his 41-year-old wife Diane Seifert Waldmiller have been licensed to provide foster care since 2013, but police began investigations after the Utah Division of Child and Family Services contacted them with a neglect complaint.

Investigators found the couple’s three sons – aged between 7 and 11 – had been locked in a bedroom for up to 13 hours at a time.

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They also found twin mattresses, without bedding, on the bedroom floor. There was no light bulb in the room’s light fixture, and the only window was painted black and screwed shut.

In the charging documents, investigators allege Matthew and Diane had permanently locked the window after the boys “escaped to go dumpster diving at a nearby school for food”.

Two of the boys had marks indicating they had been bound with zip ties, and evidence their eyes and mouths had been covered with duct tape.

The oldest of the boys disclosed that he had been “stuffed in a suitcase for a month” and that he and his brothers were given “night pills” to sleep.

“He stated he is not allowed to drink after 6pm. He further described that he was zip tied in a ‘hog-tie’ style and put in a suitcase for a month period of time,” investigators wrote in the charges.

A two-year-old girl was also found living in the home when the couple was arrested, but did not exhibit any signs of abuse or neglect.

All four children have been removed from the home.

2. ‘Australia’s Most Wanted’ man has been spotted in New South Wales.

A convicted killer who’s been on the run since skipping a Melbourne court date seven years ago has reportedly been seen in NSW.

Police say Graham Gene Potter was spotted in Griffith twice in July 2016 – once in a shop and another at a gym.

Potter, 59, was on bail when he failed to appear on conspiracy to murder charges at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in February 2010.

He was accused of being hired in 2008 to kill a man at the wedding of the son of Melbourne identity Mick Gatto when he went on the run.

Police are yet to confirm if the man spotted at the shop and gym is Potter.

“It’s important for us that we either confirm the sighting or rule out that was Potter,” Detective Superintendent Peter De Santo said.

“We know that Potter is capable of living rough and camping out, so there’s a chance he could be staying in caravan parks or camping in remote areas. He might also be picking up work at farms or as a labourer.”

Potter has regularly been named on police most-wanted lists, been sighted several times in Queensland and NSW and there’s a $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

A NSW court sentenced Potter to 15 years in prison in 1981 after being convicted as a 23-year-old for the mutilation murder of a teenager. He is also facing commonwealth charges over a 2008 drug bust.

Potter is described as Caucasian, 175cm tall, with medium to solid build, fair complexion, brown eyes, brown greying hair and a ginger beard.

Police say he is known to wear a gold sleeper earring in both ears, wears glasses and regularly wears a gold chain around his neck.

Potter has a propensity for changing his appearance and has used a number of aliases including Josh Lawson, John Page, Jim Henderson and Peter Adams.

Anyone who sights Potter is advised not to approach him but contact triple-zero.

Anyone with any information regarding his whereabouts should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

3. Couple’s amazing story of survival running from Cyclone Debbie with their toddler in their arms.

When their Bowen home was being peeled apart by Cyclone Debbie’s category four winds, Katie and Levi Ward knew they had to leave.

The couple said they made the “unthinkable decision” to shield their two-year-old daughter in their arms and run.

“We just made a beeline though the middle of the storm,” Katie Ward told 7 News.

“There was iron flying everywhere. It felt like pins and needles. I just never wanna go through it again.”

Katie’s husband Levi described sound of his home tearing apart as a “horrible, horrible noise”.

Since the cyclone cleared, the Wards have rescued their belongings from their now unliveable home. Twenty per cent of the town’s homes were destroyed in the storm.

In just 24 hours, 276mm of rain fell in Bowen. A navy ship carrying 500 tonnes of supplies, including medics and officers, is headed to North Queensland as the military and Queensland Premier fly to the region to assess the damage.

Early estimates suggest the damage bill will be more than $2 billion, with supply shortage of the region’s fruit and vegetables expected to continue until November.

4. “There’s no turning back.” British PM officially files Brexit ‘divorce papers’ as world leaders react.

Prime Minister Theresa May has officially filed the paperwork that will separate the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Nine months after Britons voted to leave, May notified EU Council President Donald Tusk in a letter on Wednesday that the UK is quitting the bloc it joined in 1973.

The Prime Minister, an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the political turmoil that followed the referendum vote, now has two years to settle the terms of the divorce before it comes into effect in late March 2019.

The outcome of the negotiations will shape the future of Britain’s $US2.6 trillion ($A3.4 trillion) economy, the world’s fifth biggest, and determine whether London can keep its place as one of the top two global financial centres.

“The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union,” May told lawmakers in the British parliament. “This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”

Leaders of the remaining 27 states of the EU have reacted to the day, with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat describing it as “a sad day for Europe”.

“Nobody can rejoice about what happened today. There are consequences for everyone,” he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wants Britain and the EU to be “close partners” and said member nations will conduct negotiations in a “fair and constructive manner”.

“I hope that the British government will also approach the talks in this spirit,” she said.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it regretted the UK’s decision, describing it as a “close and valuable partner in the EU”.

5. ‘Ice zombie’ sentenced to at least 13 years behind bars for brutal rapes of 39-yo mother and 16-yo girl.

A violent balaclava-clad, ice-affected rapist who carefully planned his “vile” assaults on a woman and a girl will be in jail for at least 13 years, AAP reports.

Father-of-two Davut Bulduk said he was an “ice zombie” when he broke into the Melbourne homes of a 39-year-old mother in 2015 and a 16-year-old schoolgirl in 2016, raping both of them.

“I couldn’t believe this thing happened to me in my home, my safe place,” the older woman told the court.

Victorian County Court judge Paul Lacava on Wednesday said the community must be protected from the 31-year-old’s “vile and repugnant” offending and sentenced him to a maximum of 18 years, with a 13-year non-parole period.

Bulduk found out from his first victim’s husband that she would be alone in her home and turned up as she got out of the shower, the court heard.

She was confronted by Bulduk standing naked, except for a balaclava, and holding a knife. He told the mother to stop screaming or he’d kill her.

She’d recently had vaginal surgery and the stitches came undone during the assault, causing pain and bleeding. Bulduk ordered her to clean herself up before he continued raping her.

Judge Lacava said this act, in light of the woman’s injury and pain, was the worst of the offending.

Two months later, Bulduk entered the home of a Year 11 schoolgirl and planned his exit strategy before climbing up to her bedroom.

She awoke to find him standing in front of her wearing a balaclava and holding her underwear. He pinched her nose tightly and told her not to make a sound.

Bulduk told the court he had little memory of his crimes because he was high on ice at the time. He described himself as an “ice zombie” and said he would not have raped the women had he not been using.

But Judge Lacava said the drug was only partly to blame because there was obvious planning involved in both assaults, as well as the use of a disguise.

Also, Bulduk had been using ice for 18 months prior so he knew the effect it had on him.

Both victims had permanent psychological damage and lived in constant fear, the judge said.

“The image of him coming back into my room is repeated in my head,” the girl told the court.

“I feel like this feeling will never leave me, even when I grow up.”

6. DFO crash: No evidence of engine failure as pilot made seven mayday calls before the crash.

A pilot made seven mayday calls before his plane crashed in Melbourne but anything else uttered in the last moments of the five men onboard remains a mystery because the black box failed, AAP reports.

Max Quartermain was flying four Americans to King Island to play golf when the small plane crashed into the DFO shopping centre and exploded in a fireball moments after take-off from Essendon Airport last month.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s preliminary report ruled out an early theory of catastrophic engine failure during take-off.

“Cores of both engines were rotating and there was no evidence of pre-impact failure of either engine’s internal components,” the report , released on Wednesday, said.

“However a number of engine components were retained for further examination and testing.”

ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood says the aircraft is so damaged it has not yet been possible to say what caused the crash.

“I offer my deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those on board the aircraft. Every effort is being made to determine the cause of this tragic accident,” he said.

Air traffic control audio records Mr Quartermain calling ‘mayday’ seven times but crucially there was no audio from the plane’s black box.

Investigators don’t know why the Beechcraft King Air’s black box did not record on its final flight on February 21.

Witnesses familiar with the aircraft type reported the take-off roll along the runway was longer than normal.

After becoming airborne it was seen to move left, then perform a shallow climbing left turn while remaining relatively level.

Further investigation will be done on the propellers to determine the blade angles at impact, their pre-impact condition and to assess the impact damage.

Texan retirees Greg De Haven, Russell Munsch, Glenn Garland and John Washburn died on impact with Mr Quartermain when the plane hit the DFO.

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